Texas lawmakers present statistics that defend "property tax rollback" bill

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - A group of lawmakers presented data that claims property taxes are growing nearly three times as fast as residents' ability to pay at hearings about property tax bills.

The data presented defends a proposed sweeping bill that would cap how much local authorities can increase taxes and would allow residents to easily roll back taxes through a local election, The Dallas Morning News reported.

City and county officials fear the effects the bill could have on if another recession brings down local property values, which could make it harder to support police and fire departments.

Republican state Sen. Paul Bettencourt said his bill gives residents the ability to decide how much they should pay for public services.

The chart, presented by Bettencourt, shows the growth of statewide property tax collections to median household income, which says city and county tax collections rose by 82 and 71 percent, while median household income rose at slower rate at about 29 percent.

Using local, state and federal date the newspaper has conducted analyses, and couldn't find factual basis for Bettencourt's claim.

"I consider that a relevant barometer of Texans' ability to pay," the senator said. "No matter how you measure it, property taxes have been growing."

However, economic data indicates the difference between residents' paychecks and their tax bills isn't nearly as wide as the data presented by Bettencourt.

"Whether it's intentional or not, looking at property tax collections as a share of median income is misleading at best," said Matthew Gardner, a senior fellow at the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington.

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